HARRIS, Mich. — With 18 holes in the books at the 8th annual Island Resort Championship, it is Esther Lee (Los Alamitos, California) looking down on the rest of the 144-player field after shooting a 7-under par 65 today at Sweetgrass Golf Club.
“I look at the scores, they’re pretty low, seems like a lot of girls are playing well,” said Lee. “It definitely feels great to be at the top of the leaderboard.”
Supporting what the Symetra Tour rookie said, a total of 64 players are at 1-under par or better after day one. That includes 22 individuals within four shots of the lead.
The former University of Colorado standout carded six birdies and one bogey on the afternoon, before concluding her first round with an eagle on the par-5 9th hole.
“This is a very strategic course and if you place your second shots well, you can give yourself a pretty good chance. Today I was able to do that and the putts just went in,” said Lee, who transferred to Colorado from Duke University after her freshman year. “The last couple weeks on Tour have been pretty good, so I’ve had good momentum going. At the start of every week, I feel good about my swing and where my game is at.”
Meanwhile, one shot back of Lee is a group of three players, including Fatima Fernandez Cano (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Desiree Dubreuil (Santa Ana, California) and Meghan MacLaren (Rushden, England).
“It has been a long time coming,” MacLaren said. “I’ve been trying to figure out what has been going on golf wise and sometimes you just have to let it click. I didn’t even feel like I played great today, managed to hole a few putts and cleaned up whenever I needed to.”
Out of the trio, it was MacLaren and Fernandez Cano who each signed bogey-free scorecards at the end of their round.
“I hit a lot of fairways, which I needed because the rough is getting pretty high out here. It’s pretty hard to hit it close from the rough,” said Fernandez Cano. “The course plays a little wide off the tee and I’ve been struggling a little bit hitting fairways. You really have to pick your spots and trust where you’re hitting it. That has helped me so far.”
On the other hand, Dubreuil had an eventful day. She went out in 32 with four birdies, then added two more on the back nine, as well as two bogeys. For the grand finale on No. 18, she found an eagle to carry some momentum into round two.
“It was just kind of one of those days where the hole got in the way of my ball,” Dubreuil said laughingly. “This course is pretty getable and the conditions weren’t too harsh today. The greens were receptive enough that I was able to hit it pretty close. I made a couple of long putts and actually left a couple more getable birdie chances that didn’t go in.”
With plenty of new faces at the top of the leaderboard, MacLaren just might have the advantage. In March, she raised the Women’s New South Wales Open trophy and took a drink to celebrate her first Ladies European Tour (LET) title following a 10-under par performance at Coffs Harbour Golf Club in Australia.
“Winning anywhere, anytime is pretty massive for your confidence,” said MacLaren. “Anytime you’re in a good position, knowing that you’ve got over the line, it’s just something different completely. Definitely I’ll be able to draw on that, but right now I’m in a great position and that’s what I’m focused on.”
Second round action picks up tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. ET with players going off No. 1 and No. 10 tees.
ESTHER LEE'S OPENING ROUND INTERVIEW
MEGHAN MACLAREN'S OPENING ROUND INTERVIEW
OPENING ROUND HIGHLIGHTS